WESTBROOK – Ronald Kenney was a man of few words, but he had plenty to offer when it came to lending a helping hand.

Throughout his years of donating blood, he gave 13 gallons. He volunteered for veterans’ dinners, and he was the one whom any family member could turn to for advice.

“He marched proudly in the Veterans Day parades,” said his daughter Gail Stanley.

One year, her father overheard a woman fretting about how she had forgotten her hat for the parade.

“Nobody volunteered to take her home, but my father overheard it and stepped up to the plate,” she said. Mr. Kenney drove her home so she could fetch her hat. When he returned, he had to catch up to his spot in the parade lineup.

Mr. Kenney died Saturday. He was 84.

When he was 17, Mr. Kenney left Westbrook to serve his country during World War II. He enlisted and was recruited for the Navy Seabees, serving for three years.

His daughter said he never saw action on the front lines, but his brothers did.

“I think my dad, having three brothers seeing combat, was very sympathetic to those who did,” his daughter said.

When he returned to Westbrook after his tour of duty, he returned to his job at the S.D. Warren Paper Co.

As a tribute to other soldiers returning home, Mr. Kenney, his brothers and his cousins staged variety shows at the Grange Hall in Westbrook.

“They would put on shows like the old USO shows,” his daughter said, and his mother would make all of the costumes for his performances.

Talking about her father Tuesday, Stanley remembered how good a cook he was. Some of his specialties were baked beans and liver and onions. While the liver dish was something most didn’t appreciate, everyone enjoyed Mr. Kenney’s baked beans on Saturday nights.

“It was a Saturday night ritual,” his daughter said. “He did them right from scratch. He’d soak them, then the salt pork.”

During his 41 years at the paper company, Mr. Kenney worked his way up from papermaker to supervisor.

“Everybody liked him, even as a foreman,” his daughter said. Quality control was his specialty.

In his retirement, he picked up playing the accordion, which his daughter attributes to his Irish heritage.

“I think it’s the Irish sound,” she said, admitting that his music-making didn’t meet the same standards as his papermaking.

“When it comes right down to it, he wasn’t all that good at it,” she said, but he would take the accordion with him on hunting trips and play.

“He’d play and they’d sing,” she said with a laugh. “None of them could sing any better than he could play.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]